Published On: 3rd June 2024

Pensioner needs to raise £2,000 to protect her from adverse legal costs.

A pensioner who was the victim of violent crime and was barred from accessing legal aid because of her age has been granted an oral permission hearing at the High Court on 18 June 2024.

Lynn* is challenging the Legal Aid Agency, arguing that the ‘disposable income threshold’ discriminates against people above the pensionable age.

If it is granted, Lynn’s case will proceed to a full hearing. If she loses, she will have to pay the government’s legal costs.

Are you able to donate to help Lynn reach her target to protect her from adverse legal costs? Anything you can afford will help protect her in making this challenge.

Background

In 2022, Lynn, aged 70, was the victim of a violent crime. To help come to terms with what she experienced, she reached out to an organisation that was set up to provide psychological support. 

Instead of finding relief in this service, she was sexually assaulted by the man who was supposed to help her.

Barred from accessing justice – because of her age

Lynn wants justice. But when she set out to take legal action against the organisation, she was unable to get legal aid. This is because her state pension and her housing benefit mean that she’s ever so slightly over what is known as the ‘disposable income threshold’.

The threshold is set at £733. Lynn doesn’t buy luxury items, and once she’s spent money to buy food, travel, heat her home and pay all of her bills for a whole month she has limited money left for other activities. This threshold was set over ten years ago before the cost of living crisis began and food and energy prices were far, far lower. 

Lynn’s age means that she must access a state pension and housing benefit rather than universal credit. If she was below the pensionable age, she would be able to get legal aid. It is purely the fact that she’s a pensioner that is preventing her from accessing justice.

All pensioners should be able to access the legal system. That’s why I’m bringing this case, for myself but also for all of them.

Lynn, 70

Rather than give up, she’s decided to challenge the Legal Aid Agency head on. She wants to highlight that the ‘disposable income threshold’ is discriminating against people above the pensionable age.

She wants to ensure that others in her situation are not excluded from accessing justice like she is right now.

The risk to Lynn in taking this case to court

PILC solicitors have asked the Legal Aid Agency to exercise discretion in Lynn’s case to no avail. We’ve fully exhausted the Legal Aid Agency’s internal appeal system and filed her ‘judicial review’ challenging the failure to award her legal aid in the High Court. 

Lynn has her first court hearing on 18 June 2024 at which the Court will decide whether her case is allowed to proceed. 

PILC will never charge her for taking this case to court. Win or lose, we will be there with her to fight her case. But should the court decide to turn her case away again (or if she is unsuccessful) she’ll have to pay all of the government department’s legal fees.

Please donate anything you can afford to help protect Lynn, and help her to continue the fight so that no one is excluded from seeking justice. Thank you. 


* Not her real name 

Lynn is raising money at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-lynn/

All funds raised will go towards protecting Lynn from adverse legal costs should her challenge be unsuccessful. If and when Lynn is successful, all money raised will be ring-fenced for future legal action.